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Vaulks aiming to go from zero to Welsh hero

 

Rags to riches: Will Vaulks
Rags to riches: Will Vaulks

By Phil Blanche

Will Vaulks was once paid 33p a week to play professional football but his dramatic rise on to the international stage could be about to see him rub shoulders with World Cup finalists Croatia.

The remarkable journey of the Wales midfielder saw him tipped for great things before he was released by Tranmere at the age of 19 and put in danger of being left on the football scrapheap.

Vaulks rebuilt his career at Scottish club Falkirk, where for several months he was almost certainly the lowest-paid player in football, before moving to Rotherham and catching the attention of Wales manager Ryan Giggs.

"I was always bigged up when I was young, told I was going to be the captain of Tranmere," said Vaulks, who made his international debut in March.

"It went from that to being released when the new manager came in. But you've just got to stick at it in training and hope someone sees something in you.

"Steven Pressley at Falkirk saw something in me, gave me that chance and I had to take it."

After a short spell at Workington in the Northern Premier League, Vaulks joined Falkirk in February 2013 determined to make a career from the game.

But Falkirk's financial situation prevented Vaulks from picking up a living wage, and only the support of his parents kept his dream alive.

"I got 33p a week for the first three or four months - that was because they had to put me on the payroll," Vaulks recalled.

"They put me in a flat and my mum and dad lent me some money to survive.

"It was a tough time. No money, five hours from home, but it made me work that little bit harder and I appreciate what I've got now."

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